Rehabilitation Team :: Nationwide Children's Hospital

Rehabilitation Team

Members of the Rehabilitation team work closely to manage each aspect of patient care. Our goal is to enhance the patient’s functional abilities as well as provide support and education to the family. Below are the pediatric health care professionals involved in our program.


The family is the primary advocate for the child’s needs and desires. Families provide continuous support throughout the acute stage, into rehab and then home. The family provides detailed and insightful information about their child’s personality, interests and learning style.


A physiatrist is a physician specializing in physical medicine and rehabilitation (PM&R). A physiatrist is trained in caring for physically disabled patients. They have expertise in the medical management and the prescription of braces and wheelchairs. Physiatrists are skilled in working with the interdisciplinary rehabilitation team to maximize the benefits of therapeutic interventions. PM&R residents, fellows and medical students function under the attending physiatrist. Meet our Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation physicians.

Rehab Discharge Planner

The Discharge Planner is the patient advocate, who promotes the participation of the patient and family on an ongoing basis in the discussion and decision-making process as it relates to plans, goals and status. The Discharge Planner also maintains communication with family, primary care physicians, payers and rehab team members. In addition, they coordinate discharge planning for successful return to home, school and community.

Rehab Nurse

The goal of rehab nursing is to assist the child in restoring and maintaining maximum health. Rehab nurses conduct ongoing assessments of medical, physical, safety and cultural needs. They help the child and family incorporate what they have learned in therapy into their daily routine on the unit. Nursing clinical leaders are certified rehab nurses who are expert resources for the nursing staff and families. Patient care assistants (PCAs) and nursing students function under the direction of the Rehab nurses.

Physical Therapist (PT)

Physical therapists address gross motor skills. They work on strengthening the body and legs to assist in mobility, transfers and walking. They work to improve the child’s balance during sitting and standing activities. Physical therapists also assess the child’s coordination skills, such as running, hopping and jumping. Licensed physical therapy assistants (PTAs) provide treatments according to the plan, as determined by the physical therapist (PT). Physical therapy aides and students function under the direction of the PT and PTA.

Occupational Therapist (OT)

Occupational therapists address physical, perceptual and cognitive deficits. OT works on self-care skills such as feeding, grooming and dressing. They provide adaptive equipment if necessary, along with special techniques to enhance independence. They work on building strength and coordination of the arms and hands. OT also works with the speech therapist to ensure eating and swallowing skills are performed safely. Certified occupational therapy assistants (COTAs) provide treatments according to the plan, as determined by the occupational therapist (OT). Occupational therapy students function under the direction of the OT and COTA.

Speech-Language Pathologist (SP)

The speech-language pathologist addresses communication and language skills. They work on listening, speaking and thinking skills. They help the child with following directions and memory skills. Speech-language pathologists also work with the occupational therapist to ensure eating and swallowing skills are performed safely. Speech pathology students function under the direction of the speech-language pathologist.

Therapeutic Recreation Specialist (TR)

The recreational therapist uses recreational or leisure activities to improve or maintain physical, mental, emotional and/or social functioning. Group activities are offered to encourage socialization and peer interaction. Community reintegration activities are used to practice daily living skills, mobility skills, street safety and other necessary life skills.

Child Life Specialist (CL)

Child life specialists use a supportive and developmental approach to deal with any issues the child may have due to his or her disability. They focus on social skills and interacting with other children. Hospital volunteers assist and participate in activities planned and coordinated by the child life specialist.


The teacher provides services to those enrolled in a school program from kindergarten through 12th grade. Academic skills are assessed and instruction in deficit areas is provided. The teacher uses the child’s school materials as much as possible. Contact is maintained with the school throughout the child’s stay on the Rehab Unit. A school reintegration meeting may be held prior to discharge to discuss school-related issues with parents and school representatives. Learn more about our School Reintegration Program.

Early Intervention Teacher/Preschool (EI)

Early intervention provides services to children from birth to age five who either have developmental delays or are at risk for developmental delays. They perform a developmental screening on each child and participate in developmental play sessions. A referral is made to appropriate services prior to discharge.

Social Worker (SW)

The social worker advocates for the child and the family. They evaluate how the child’s injury or illness has affected family life. They provide support and assist in the utilization of resources in the community prior to discharge.

Clinical Nutritionist

The clinical nutritionist assesses the child’s nutritional status. They formulate a plan of care when there is nutritional risk, following the child’s progress throughout the rehab process. Dietitian technicians and dietitian students work under the direction of the dietitian.

Rehab Psychologist

The rehab psychologist assists the child and family with psychological issues such as agitation, anxiety, confusion and depression. The rehab psychologist also assists the child and family in coping with the injury or illness and adapting to functional life changes. Psychology interns and fellows function under the direction of the rehab psychologist.


The neuropsychologist provides specialized evaluation of cognitive processes associated with traumatic and non-traumatic brain injuries. Neuropsychological evaluation is typically completed toward the end of the Inpatient Rehab stay. The results of the evaluation assist the physician and therapists in understanding the extent of the cognitive problems and aid in determining specialized school needs for discharge. Neuropsychology interns and fellows function under the direction of the neuropsychologist.

Massage Therapist (MT)

Licensed massage therapists use techniques to enhance relaxation, relieve muscle tension and pain, reduce anxiety, enhance self esteem and increase circulation, muscle strength and flexibility. They focus on parent teaching and enhancing feelings of safety and comfort.

Nationwide Children's Hospital
700 Children's Drive Columbus, Ohio 43205 614.722.2000